It's A Mess

Some News You Can Use from Shelby Center

I can hear my 2 yr. old granddaughter as I speak: “It’s a mess. Don’t worry mommy I’ll clean it up.” Does life or family ever feel like, It’s a mess!?

How about the world we’re living in, or the church we attend? Who’s going to say, don’t worry, I’ll clean it up? Friend, life gets messy, but Christ can clean it up.

If I asked what book of the NT was written to believers rescued from societal disfunction yet struggling with life together in a growing church in a great metropolis and travel destination which would you choose?

If I asked how messed up can a Christian be and still be saved? Or does God plant a church in a society captivated by sin, wealth, religion, immorality, indulgence, and idolatry, to bring light amid darkness and order among chaos and entrust her to graciously serve there? What book gives the answer and the antidote?

What might that church look like today and how would it manage the tension created by uncritical acceptance of cultural influences, clashing views, values, lifestyles, and levels of spiritual growth yet saved by the same grace? (From 1 Cor. 1:1-11):

As we’re introduced to First Corinthians, remember God calls each of us to represent the gospel to the culture from which we came and in which we live without being sinful, self-righteous, or standoffish.  

The church of God is to be a collective engaging witness of the life-changing gospel to our community without sinning or causing others to sin, while using every other means possible to lead them to Christ and teach them how to live (1 Cor. 9:19-23).

A church staying on mission is a ministry that can get messy.

1. (1-3) Christianity is to be sub-cultural, not anti-cultural. The church of God is a collection of locals who relate to that culture having been raised in it and rescued from it who now reflect their new life in Christ.

· The gospel received births a new life that publicly identifies with Jesus, seeks to represent His gospel mission well, while refusing to return to “what I used to be, desire, and do” (1 Cor. 6:9-11).

· Sosthenes was an anti-Christian religious leader before he became a bible-believing brother (Acts 18:17)! What level of opposition or brand of religion were you?

Corinthians were sold out to sin and status before being made saints! What diversity or degree of social status or sinner were you?

2. (4-6). Grace is amazing because it is undeserved. It shows gratitude to God for keeping those whose lives are a mess engaged with the local church so Christ can work on and in them.

· Could Christ receive good testimony among such a mess? If grace is evident - yes! No matter the former life we’re all made rich by Christ and therefore seek to enrich all others without partiality.

· Gospel grace gives what is needed, not deserved. It never robs others of equality in Christ. Church can get messy while diverse sinners and snobs learn to be saints and servants (1 Cor. 11:18-23).

3. (7-9). If grace can keep a Corinthian until Christ returns it can keep us!

Church life gets messy because we all bring some of the stuff we were raised in and rescued from. Don’t worry Christ can clean it up!

· Paul tactfully reminds the sinners, snobs, socialites, and Sosthenes among us that in Christ we lack nothing, gain everything, and are equally secure.

So, do something useful and serve (1 Co. 15:57-58).

· Every true born-again believer, regardless of their present level of sanctification can rest securely in what Jesus has done. Right beliefs will eventually lead to the right behaviors - evidentially!

We rejoice in the messes of ministry by remembering we’re on mission. We keep imperfect people engaged with the church knowing that no matter the mess Christ can clean it up.

He uses us no matter who we think we are, where we’ve been, or what we’ve done. Made a mess? It’s okay. But try not to make any more!

Next time you hear, it’s a mess, will you help clean it up?

 God’s looking for some Sosthenes, some former slaves to sin or status, some former idolators or ideologues who understand society’s a mess, needs a church engaged, and then choose to faithfully serve at Shelby Center and help clean it up. Can we count on you?

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